Boxing: Haye's run falls to the heart and bravery of Thompson

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The Independent Online

Carl Thompson continued his truly remarkable career when he stopped David Haye at Wembley Arena last night in what will be the British fight of 2004.

Carl Thompson continued his truly remarkable career when he stopped David Haye at Wembley Arena last night in what will be the British fight of 2004.

Haye was the good looking, young, unbeaten favourite and Thompson the veteran of 38 fights and at 40 surely getting closer to the end of his career.

Last night in front of a disappointingly small crowd the fight followed a predictable pattern for one round with Haye landing so often that there simply seemed no way that Thompson could survive.

However, there are as many as 10 fights in Thompson's career that have looked like lost causes before he has turned a fight around with a display of bravery that never ceases to amaze. It was the same last night.

By round two Haye, who at 23 is 17 years younger, suddenly started to breath heavy. But his punches were still on target and at times it still looked inevitable that Thompson would collapse.

By round three Haye's breathing had become a problem and his shots were slower and his chin vulnerable. Thompson then set about slowly taking the younger fighter apart and by round five Haye had nothing left.

A right, which caught Haye high on the head, dropped the younger man and when he regained his feet he was backed into a corner and it was a relief when his trainer, Adam Booth, threw in a towel of surrender.

''I'm not the most attractive fighter to watch but I think I have the biggest heart,'' claimed Thompson. "I could see that he was wary of me and that showed me that I could win a fight that nobody expected me to win.'' For Haye the future is not as bleak as it might look this morning when he wakes up. He is no longer unbeaten but what was meant to be his transition from prospect to proper fighter has doubled up as the type of baptism that easy wins against willing losers will never provide.

''I knew when I took the fight that it would not be easy and I never underestimated what Carl can do. I got it wrong but if I can have a rematch I will get it right because I know that the public liked what it saw tonight.'' Haye is right because in every round the two boxers showed a willingness to exchange punches in a fight that was a genuine 50-50 match that so few active British boxers are willing to go for.

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